Thursday, May 21, 2009


To-day's blog photos are for our southern non-winter friends. Took these pictures 3 years ago in Bayfield's Pioneer Sunset Park overlooking frozen Lake Huron. We obviously didn't make it south that winter:((

Up until 1974 I hadn't driven anything much bigger than an ordinary sized car. Most of my vehicles had been Volkswagon beetles & small sports cars. That all changed one sunny day in Vernon, British Columbia. It was a Monday morning & the local employment center had sent me over to a store called Bennett's Furniture & Appliances. The helper on their local delivery truck had just been terminated the previous Friday & they needed a new Swamper. (the helper person on a 2 man delivery truck) The stores truck was commonly referred to as a Ford Cabover & had a hydraulic lift on the back. To me it was a large truck because I had to climb up & into it & the whole thing reminded me of a big boxy looking dinosaur because it was all painted green. I met the driver who went by the name of Garth. He showed me around & we were soon working to-gether loading the back of the truck with the morning's deliveries. Some furniture pieces & a couple of appliances I think. I also became aware of Garth's discontent with the store as we headed out with our load. All morning long Garth went on with his concerns, complaints, rants, & ravings. Seems his previous swamper was also his best friend & Garth was unhappy that the store had let him go. We finished up the morning's deliveries & headed back to the store. Garth threaded the large truck up an alley & maneuvered it around until he was able to back into the loading dock. I wondered at the time how he was able to move such a large truck around in such a small space. Little did I know that I was about to find out........... real quick. With a flurry of unkind words about Bennett's he tossed me the keys, opened his door, & with the words, "I quit" he was gone & I never did see the guy again. The head sales fellow was my immediate boss in the store had the nickname of Sparky & as I walked back into the store with the news about the driver quitting I soon found out why he was called Sparky. Sparks flew alright!!!! He was a very hyper man & I caught the brunt of his fireworks about the driver quitting. He thrust a pile of bills in my hand & told me to get out there & start loading the truck with the afternoon's deliveries while he called manpower to get another fellow sent over. I assumed he was hiring another driver........but no, he hired a new swamper. Suddenly, I was the new driver!! There was no point in telling Sparky I had never driven a truck or anything bigger than a car before because he would have squashed me into the floor like a bug. In fact I was to learn there was no telling Sparky anything, ever!! So with that in mind I climbed up into the driver's side of the big stake truck & just sat there looking around at the vastness of mechanical space around me. Had never seen a gearshift lever that long before or a steering wheel that big. There were buttons & switches here & there that were definitely foreign. The road seemed a long way down & the far corner of the windshield seemed an acre away. Before I could get myself too scared or talk myself out of it, the passenger door opened & a young fellow hauled himself up into the cab with a big friendly, "Hi, my name's Frank & I'm your new Swamper." New Swamper?? Hell, it was only a few hours before that I was the new Swamper:(( Not wanting to let on to Frank that I had never driven a truck before I tried to look as professional as I could, but as soon as I ground the truck into some sort of forward gear & lurched away from the loading dock, the cat was out of the bag & Frank new what was up. Between the two of us we wiggled our way around & out the alley to the busy main street without breaking off any of the outside rearview mirrors or taking down any buildings. I do remember scaring the beejeebers out of some pedestrians though as we bumbled out of the alley. Managed to make our way up & down the streets of Vernon that afternoon, lurching in & out of driveways & around some of the local treacherous steep drop off roads in the Valley outside of town. By day's end though we had successfully completed all our deliveries without incident & returned the truck to the store........unscathed:)) No pats on the back from Sparky though......he was too busy snarling about the morning's deliveries already!!
I got onto that large truck pretty quickly & with Frank being a good swamper we went on to work well to-gether over the next little while. We did have a few incidents though where we dropped a brand new kitchen stove down a flight of outside stairs on Christmas Eve one day & another time when Frank jumped out of the truck as I slid helplessly backwards down an ice slicked laneway with a steep drop-off on one side. But, in the long run we did OK & never put so much as a scratch on that big old dinosaur of a truck (well, none that we admitted to anyway) despite it's intimidating size to a little Volkswagon beetle driver from a small town in Ontario..........................:))